Belfast Telegraph

Crues are closing in on a significant Uefa windfall

By Stuart McKinley

Crusdares are on the verge of hitting a huge financial jackpot to go alongside their first Irish League title in almost two decades.

European governing body Uefa have announced a massive hike in prize money for their club competitions and the Irish League champions will be among those to benefit.

The Crues, who are currently nine points clear of Linfield at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership, will all but clinch the title, their first since 1997, if they beat the Blues at Windsor Park on Saturday and that will also guarantee them a whopping €450,000 (£325,000) European windfall.

And that could rise to a mouthwatering £400,000 before they even kick a ball in this summer's Champions League qualifiers.

If, as happened with Cliftonville in the last two seasons, Northern Ireland's Champions League representatives are given automatic entry to the second qualifying round of the competition, there will be a £220,000 bonus to go alongside the guaranteed participation fee of £180,000.

That will be the case if this season's Champions League winners have already qualified for next season through their own domestic league.

Should the Crues start in round one and win their tie they would then earn a handsome £545,000.

The new cash sums represent a huge increase compared to the £270,000 that the Reds picked up from their Champions League ties with Hungarian side Debrecen last season.

The fight for a top-three finish, which will guarantee a Europa League place, brings a lucrative bonus as well.

There is a guaranteed sum of €200,000 (£145,000) in the first round, with an additional £150,000 for participants in round two, compared to £87,000 and £95,000 in rounds one and two last season.

That will also be the prize for the winners of next month's Irish Cup final between Glentoran and Portadown, if they haven't already qualified through their league place.

The team finishing fourth would go into the Europa League if the Irish Cup winners are in the Premiership's top three.

Belfast Telegraph


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